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DEFRA consultation details cost to firms

Proposals to dramatically change the way the air conditioning and refrigeration industry is regulated have finally been released for consultation, with details on the potential cost to individuals and companies.


The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says feedback from companies, trade associations and individuals will guide the way it should implement new European laws on fluorinated greenhouse gases (f-gases) and ozone-depleting substances.


An extract from the report, Consultation on proposed Regulations - further implementation measures - fluorinated greenhouse gases and ozone depleting substances, said: 'The Regulations set minimum requirements that must be complied with. Doing nothing is not an option. In a few situations, especially in relation to the way that personnel and companies are certified and registered, there are different options that need to be compared during the consultation process.


'Evidence and expert opinion provided during the consultation will be used to propose preferred options for the Final Impact Assessment.'


Included in the consultation documents is the Partial Impact Assessment (PIA) which details the cost and benefits of the new regulations, including company and individual registration schemes.


At the moment only about 250 companies are registered with the voluntary Refcom scheme, but this would have to increase to more than 5,000 under any mandatory scheme, due to be in place by July next year.


A minimal company registration scheme would initially cost businesses £70 to £110. Two more 'rigorous' options with additional auditing and re-registration requirements every three or five years would initially cost £95 to £140.


Up to 25,000 people working within the air conditioning and refrigeration industry would have to register with a mandatory personnel scheme with registration costs of between £15 and £20.


Mike Nankivell, chairman of the ACRIB F-Gas Implementation Group, said: 'There are 15 questions posed that are specific to our industry sector and which we need to ensure receive our carefully considered responses. Perhaps more importantly, although not the easiest of reading material to fully digest, I believe the report provides greater clarity for the implications of this particular piece of climate change legislation than we have seen or perhaps realised to date.


'In the PIA we can see for the first time some hard numbers in terms of cost implications, cost savings and environmental benefits. It is too soon to comment on these, but over the next few weeks these will be the subject of close scrutiny. '


Steve Crocker, Refcom scheme co-ordinator, said: 'I don't think any contractor will be happy with any increased cost and extra paperwork, but that needs to be balanced against the fact that at the moment there is no way of guaranteeing a company is following current legislation.


'We haven't got that much time as the Commission will be conducting a review in 2011 and if we haven't proven as an industry that we have noticeably taken steps against leakage rates then they may take further action against the industry.


'Doing things correctly does not have to be a burden and should be seen as an opportunity for companies to manage themselves a little bit better.'